The NHS could find itself having to negotiate a second year of support for the dying Windows XP OS after a survey by Citrix found that a quarter of English Trusts plan to continue using it beyond April 2015 when the Government’s extended support contract with Microsoft ends.

XP has a reputation as the OS habit many of its users just can’t kick, but the news that 26 percent of the sample 35 Trusts questioned by the software firm for an Freedom of Information (FoI) request didn’t believe they would be able migrate by the cut-off date will come as a shock.

Alarmingly, 14 percent weren’t even aiming at the deadline as a cut-off for turning off their last system, implying they would be using XP for an extended period beyond April.

The findings suggest that the UK Government will have to negotiate some kind of extension to the one-year £5.5 million ($8.8 million) support contract it agreed with Microsoft in April 2014, the date of XP’s official end of life.

Under the contract, Microsoft undertook to provide the UK public sector with security updates for XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 that aren't available to mainstream XP users. The majority of the affected systems are believed to be in the NHS, with an estimate by EHI Intelligence putting the number at 800,000 in September 2013.

“Like the rest of the public sector, the NHS is under tremendous pressure to do more with less. The IT department is no exception,” said Citrix UK country manager, Jason Tooley.

“These findings highlight a wider opportunity for NHS trusts across the UK to harness technology today to transform IT processes for the better.

“Utilising IT, including desktop and application virtualisation, can positively impact the entire workplace, delivering increased productivity and ultimately improved patient care,” he said.

Of the 35 Trusts, only five were using desktop virtualisation as a solution to the problem of securely running XP during the transition to more recent versions of Windows.